Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to William Beekman, [1 March 1797]

To William Beekman1

[New York, March 1, 1797.]2 “Having reconsidered the case of your Uncle (Wm. Beekman’s) Will3 with the authorities—I advise the Devisees to claim all that by the Partition became his several property & which in my former opinion with Mr. Evertson4 was considered as passing by his Will, not merely a proportion equal to his interest before Partition in the part which remained to him after partition. The principle seems to be not only that a partition simply is not a revocation of the devise but that the part acquired in severalty in lieu of the part before held in common passes wholly to the devisee.…”5

ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

1Beekman was a New York City merchant. His uncle, who was named William, had died in 1795.

2H did not date this letter, but Beekman’s endorsement reads: “Recd. 1st. March 1797.”

3H’s undated notes of the facts of this will may be found in the New-York Historical Society, New York City.

An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, for December 21, 1795, reads: “for this sum of Beekman for opinion concerning Will 5” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

4The first opinion on William Beekman’s will which Nicholas Evertson, also a New York City attorney, and H made is dated September 2, 1796 (Df, in the handwriting of H and Evertson, New-York Historical Society, New York City; DS, with insertions in H’s handwriting, New-York Historical Society, New York City).

An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1802, for September 1, 1796, reads: “Devisees of Wm. Beekman for opinion on sundry questions concerning the Will of William Beekman 50” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

5On March 4, 1796, H and Evertson prepared the following opinion: “Question relative to the estate of William Beekman Decd.

“Did the writings termed compact wills restrain the parties from making another will before the death of either of them without mutual consent?

“We are of opinion that the writings termed compact wills did restrain the parties thereto from making any other will inconsistent therewith without consent of parties concerned antecedent to the death of one of them—and advise the Executors to conform to this principle in the disposition of the estate.” (DS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.)

Under the date of March 7, 1797, H made the following entry in his Cash Book, 1795–1804: “Beekman for additional fee for opinion & advice concerning the estate of William Beekman senior deceased 30” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

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